Clapper: Watergate pales in comparison to Russia claims

A former top U.S. intelligence official said Wednesday that the allegations that sparked multiple investigations of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election are more concerning than Watergate.

"I think [if] you compare the two, that Watergate pales really in my view compared to what we're confronting now,” Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told Australia’s National Press Club, according to CBS

Clapper said some American institutions are being attacked by the Trump administration. 

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"So the question is: How long can these assaults go on and the institutions not be irrevocably damaged? I honestly can't say," Clapper said.

Former FBI Director James Comey will be testifying before Congress Thursday as the Senate Intelligence Committee looks into allegations that Russia was involved in hacking to disrupt the 2016 U.S. election. 

The Department of Justice last month announced former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to lead the agency's investigation.  

Former Justice officials and allies of Comey say they expect him to avoid disclosing anything that might influence Mueller's probe.

“Jim has enormous respect for Mueller, and I expect that that respect is reciprocated,” an associate of Comey’s told The Hill. “Jim will be incredibly focused on avoiding interfering with Mueller’s interests or inquiries in any way.”